Cate McCurry, PA
Irish Water is to carry out an audit of water treatment plants across the country, following issues at two water treatment plans that led to some 52 people falling ill.
The Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien, said Irish Water will prioritise the largest 20 treatment plants.
The serious incidents at drinking water plants at Ballymore Eustace, which serves parts of Dublin city, and Gorey in Co Wexford, were disclosed on Friday.
The unsafe water entered the public drinking water supply in recent weeks, leaving dozens of people ill.
I’m meeting w/ @DeptHousingIRL officials @IrishWater & @wexfordcoco & @DubCityCouncil representatives this morning to ensure there is no repeat of these very serious incidents which have happened.
— Darragh O'Brien (@DarraghOBrienTD) September 18, 2021
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that the Ballymore Eustace plant produced unsafe drinking water for a period of up to 10 hours from August 20th-21st.
The incident was not notified by Irish Water to the EPA or to the Health Service Executive (HSE) until September 1st.
The EPA said that there were a number of “associated hospitalisations”, with one serious illness detected in the community.
Mr O’Brien said that the incidents have been rectified and the water supply from the two plants is now safe to drink.
He met representatives from Irish Water, Dublin City Council and Wexford County Council on Saturday.
After the meeting the minister said: “In the immediate term Irish Water will now undertake an audit of the water treatment plants across the country.
“They will prioritise the largest 20 treatment plants, visiting each of them, meeting with the caretakers of each plant to ensure that proper processes are in place in terms of dealing with and escalating any incidents which may arise.
“Irish Water’s managing director and the local authority chief executives each assured the minister of their full co-operation and that their organisations are working together in full co-operation to put in place the urgent and necessary corrective measures.
“Irish Water will also work with each local authority over the coming two weeks, conducting refresher training on incident reporting for all plants.
“Where appropriate, Irish Water will now put in place a technician on site, to ensure the continued safety of water treatment plants.
“Ultimately, as we all know, there are limitations to the current working arrangements between Irish Water and local authorities and it is impacting on the delivery of services.
“A process is under way in the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) to deliver the transformation of this service but I am also requesting that Irish Water and local authorities take further steps to improve Irish Water control of all water service plants in the immediate term, pending the implementation of the agreed longer-term operational and staffing arrangements.”